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Liberation Theology

Feminist Theologies

By virtue of its large and varied racial and ethnic minorities, the United States has produced the largest variety of feminist theologies. At the same time, theologies from the United States are not only not applicable in other parts of the world but also often reflect the specific historical and cultural circumstances of that country. Thus, Latina feminist theology (exemplified by María Pilar Aquino from the Catholic tradition and Daisy Machadofrom the Protestant), womanist theology, mujerista theology (including Latina female theologians such as Ada María Isazi-Díaz and Yolanda Tarango), Native American, and Asian-American feminist theologies (for example, Kwok Puilan and Chung Hyun Kyung), have been influenced by feminist thinking from other contexts and countries, but also reflect the situation of women from ethnic and racial minorities in the United States. It is sometimes difficult to draw a clear line between Latin American and U.S. Latino or Asian and Asian-American theological production because individual theologians often have spent parts of their lives in both their countries of origin and in the United States.

Some important white North American feminist theologians who have done groundbreaking work are Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza and Rosemary Radford Ruether (Catholic), Mary Daly (post-Christian), Judith Plaskow (Jewish), and Letty M. Russell (Protestant). Schüssler Fiorenza and Ruether also explicitly define themselves as liberation theologians.

In Europe, scholars such as Catharina J. M. Halkes, Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel, and Mary Grey identify themselves as feminist liberation theologians. The European Society for Women in Theological Research has been an important forum for the development of European feminist theologies. Both in Europe and the United States, there are also feminist thealogians (after thea, Greek for "goddess") who depart from the Judeo-Christian tradition by reclaiming different goddess traditions. Many feminist theologians in different parts of the world include eco-feminist and ecological concerns in their work.

All feminist theologies share the importance of the analysis of sexism in different religious traditions, women's exclusion from both theology and positions of power in religious institutions, and the often explicitly religious legitimization of the subordination of women. Many burning ethical issues, such as abortion and violence against women, cannot be adequately assessed without a critical feminist theological analysis of the religious underpinnings of ethical thinking; and dialogue with feminist theories from other fields is also important.


Boff, Leonardo. Igreja, carisma e poder. Petrópolis, Brazil: Vozes, 1981.

Cone, James H. A Black Theology of Liberation. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1990.

Cone, James H., and Gayraud S. Wilmore, eds. Black Theology: A Documentary History. 2 vols. 2nd rev. ed. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1993.

Ellacuría, Ignacio, and Jon Sobrino, eds. Mysterium Liberationis: Conceptos fundamentales de la teología de la liberación. 2 vols. San Salvador: UCA Editores, 1991.

Fabella, Virginia, and R. S. Sugirtharajah, eds. Dictionary of Third World Theologies. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 2000.

Gibellini, Rosino, ed. Paths of African Theology. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1994.

Gutiérrez, Gustavo. Teología de la liberación: Perspectivas. Salamanca: Sígueme, 1972.

Isasi-Díaz, Ada María, and Fernando F. Segovia, eds. Hispanic/ Latino Theology: Challenge and Promise. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996.

King, Ursula, ed. Feminist Theology from the Third World: A Reader. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1994.

Pieris, Aloysius. An Asian Theology of Liberation. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1988.

Ruether, Rosemary R. Liberation Theology: Human Hope Confronts Christian History and American Power. New York: Paulist Press, 1972.

——. Sexism and God-talk: Toward a Feminist Theology. Boston: Beacon, 1983.

Schüssler Fiorenza, Elisabeth. In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins. New York: Crossroad, 1983.

Thistlethwaite, Susan B., and Mary P. Engel, eds. Lift Every Voice: Constructing Christian Theologies from the Underside. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1990.

Elina Vuola

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Laser - Background And History to Linear equationLiberation Theology - Latin American Liberation Theology, Black Theology, Feminist Theologies, Bibliography